The Ministry of Labour has revealed that 6,451 Portuguese registered with British social security between June 2022 and June 2023, 43% less than the 11,335 registered in the previous 12 months.

Enrolling in social security is a requirement for being able to work or receive social benefits in the country and an indicator used to calculate demographic flows.

The reduction in the number of Portuguese confirms the trend seen in 2022, which accounted for a drop of 41% to 7,941 Portuguese registrations in British social security, against 13,551 in 2021.

It is estimated that around 400,000 Portuguese reside in the United Kingdom, most of whom have settled since the 2010s.

Figures updated today by the Ministry of the Interior on the Registration System for European Union citizens ('EU Settlement Scheme', EUSS) accounted for 483,350 applications by Portuguese citizens until June 30, 2023, to obtain a residence permit, mandatory in the post-Settlement regime.

Of these, 267,320 Portuguese received a permanent residence permit ('settled status'), 168,410 a provisional title ('pre-settled status') and 47,630 had their processes rejected or invalidated.

The number of applications is not equivalent to the number of Portuguese residents in the United Kingdom, as some are repeated due to the need to appeal or to change from provisional to permanent status.

Europeans staying away

The decline in Portuguese immigration to the United Kingdom is part of a decline in the immigration of European citizens in general, who only represented 12% of the 1.1 million foreigners registered by the British Ministry of Labour in the 12 months to June 2023.

Since 2021, European citizens have ceased to benefit from freedom of movement in the United Kingdom, following the country's departure from the European Union, a process known as 'Brexit' triggered by a referendum in 2016.

The British Government has since imposed new, stricter rules, with Europeans subject to a new system that requires compliance with certain conditions, such as an employment contract, minimum wage and knowledge of the English language.

The new situation has resulted in a sharp increase in non-European immigration to the UK, which soared by 45% in the 12 months to June 2023 to 961,191 British social security enrollees, in particular from India, Nigeria, Pakistan and China.

As a result of the influx of refugees due to the Russian invasion that began in 2022, Ukraine was the nationality with the third highest number of registrations (75,000) in the 12 months to June 2023, a sharp increase from the 1,900 registered in the 12 months ending in June 2019.